Skip to main content
8:00 am
>> you've been watching booktv, 48 hours of programming beginning saturday morning at eight eastern, through monday morning at eight eastern. nonfiction books all weekend every weekend right here on c-span2. .. >> after that we'll be live with an analysis of key house and senate races with two former representatives who chaired their respective parties' congressional campaign
8:01 am
committees. >> host: and now joining us on "the communicators" this weekend before the election is fcc commissioner mignon clyburn who after chairman genachowski is the senior democrat on the federal communications commission. commissioner clyburn, if we could start with events of the week. >> guest: yes. >> host: hurricane sandy. >> guest: yes. >> host: um, what is your assessment? there have been reports that up to 25% of cell towers in the northeast have been knocked out, that people are now using pay phones because their service is not working. what is your assessment of the carriers and their ability to maintain phone service for people in these affected areas? >> guest: peter, first of all, allow me to thank you, the both of you, for allowing me to be here today. um, also, my condolences, of course, go out to the families. there are many loved ones who were lost in this, in this tragic event, so my condolences
8:02 am
go out to them, and, of course, hats off to those brave first responders who answered, continue to answer the call. in terms of the fcc' engagement as you know, the chairman literally spent the night at the agency. public safety person did the same. and we are definitely engaged in the process, have been working firsthand with fema to make an overall assessment. you're right in terms of those initial numbers, that up to 25% of cell towers were disabled during this process. what the fcc does and will continue to do is, um, to work with these entities to assess the situation on the ground and to more so use this information to see where we could do better going forward. so, yes, some of those legacy platforms we haven't been talking about pay phones in a long time, and that just reinforces that in terms of communications engagement, that it is an all of the above
8:03 am
approach. very few things are through legacy for use, and very few things are not vulnerable. and so there are a lot of lessons learned, and we are engaged to insure that whatever the best lessons and best practices going forward in terms of redundancy and the like, that we will do better next time if there's room to do better. >> host: commissioner clyburn s this an improvement over the last natural disaster we suffered, let's look back to even 2005 with katrina and some other hurricanes and natural disasters. >> guest: i think you will see it's too early to make that assessment because even now things are being ramped up, i think you would say. it's never satisfactory for those out of service. but in terms -- we're going to have vulnerabilities, you know? when you have towers, when you have, you know, the infrastructure, there are going to be -- they're going to be vulnerable to natural disasters, of course. but i think all in all in terms
8:04 am
of the response, what i'm hearing, on what i'm sensing is people see that, um, deployments have been made as soon as it was safe to do so and that a lot of the systems worked as best as they could under these circumstances. so i think all in all you will see some improvement in terms of the results at the end of the day. >> host: also joining our conversation on "the communicators" is paul kirby who is the senior editor with "telecommunications reports." >> one of the issues is back-up power. >> guest: yes. >> a few years ago the fcc adopted rules that were challenged in court. at the oral arguments, the two -- two of the judges on the panel seemed skeptical of the rules, so the fcc abandoned them. do you think the fcc should push for back-up power rules again in light of sandy? >> guest: i think in light of all these situations, while tragic, really reinforce why some of the pronouncements, some
8:05 am
of the things that we put forth, why we do what we do, why we affirm some of those things. yes, back-up power systems, um, definitely, you know, were strained and in play here. they're not going to last forever. you mentioned, you know, the number of hours in play. and so it's just affirms how codependent we are and how even, you know, some people talk about jurisdiction and the like, that those lines are being constantly blurred. so i'm hoping that even though this was a tragic reinforcement, that that will definitely drive home the need for this type of engagement, and i am hopeful that this will influence positively the type of reinforcement, the structure that we need in order to be more resilient in these times. >> so you would support a band-aid? >> guest: would i support a band-aid? >> yeah. >> guest: i will say that i will
8:06 am
review, and, um, it should not surprise you that i will not make a pronouncement here, but i am supportive of any type of reenforced, any type of policy that will insure not only an ongoing, positive, robust engagement during normal times, but the ability to ramp up and to reinforce during times of, like these. >> okay. um, as peter said, we're almost on an election here. one of the issues people thought in the telecom circles if mitt romney were to win, some folks think perhaps an fcc run by republicans, a justice department run by republicans might decide differently in some mergers and acquisitions, there'd be more her -- mergers in the wireless industry. does that concern you? do you think there'd be less competition if there was more
8:07 am
consolidation in the wireless industry? >> guest: i think there are two things in play here, number one, in terms of how the fcc operates day-to-day, that will not change. in terms of the way we evaluate mergers, digest information, the way in which staff processes information, that part will not change. i say, as you mentioned, whoever's named head of the doj, justice department, whoever either remains or is named head of the fcc, of course, will take on, um, would have a lot of the same principles and, um, you know, characteristics as the president. so in terms of how are things evaluated, that may or may not fluctuate, you know, fending on what happens -- depending on what happens on tuesday. but the way the fcc governs itself, that will never change. >> but if more consolidation was approved, would that be a
8:08 am
concern, do you think? >> guest: i am always mindful of what in terms of a consolidated ecosystem or ever more consolidated ecosystem, you know, what that means, what that means for independent voices, what that means in terms of diversity, what that means for small communities. it really came home to me when i was watching some of the newscasts when i saw this individual who i could will say that english was not his first language who did not know that the system was going to shut down at 7. he was stranded. so how in terms of, you know, his information, how does he receive critical information? from my perspective, and this is mignon clyburn as an individual speak, a more robust, diverse communications or media infrastructure would -- chances, increase his chances in terms of the information dissemination and the like. because if he, in this case he
8:09 am
is in tuned or is wedded to that particular information source, chances are he's going to go to that informing source, chances are that information source would have disseminated information. this individual was stuck. i don't know how long, but he was stuck because the information did not get to him. so that's why in these cases i'm concerned about what a consolidated ecosystem looks like, but i am always open for engagement. >> host: commissioner clyburn, we talked a little bit about the cell phone towers and the companies, but what about the first responders? what did you see, what have you assessed so far when it comes to first responders in hurricane sandy and their ability to communicate? >> guest: what i know, there was a couple of things that were unique about new york. new york has a system called p.l.a.n., and i'm horrible with acronyms, but i think it's personal -- whatever -- i can't remember what the acronym is, but it is a personalized alert.
8:10 am
the a is for alert process that kicked in. so what i saw even from that standpoint was the ability of those individuals who had enabled phones, they found out what was going on. so that was an augmented, that was a help to first responders. in terms of, as i said, we work closely with fema and other entities to insure that systems and back-up systems are in place. we work closely with radio stations to assume that they need back-up power in terms of generators, we kick into gear in terms of the fcc, so what i am seeing is, again, how codependent we are and how much that communications backbone, that infrastructure, how much that moons especially in -- means especially in times of crisis. and the fcc, as i said, was all hands-on, open 24/7 to insure that wherever there were deficiencies in which we could assist, that we were there. >> host: now, paul brought up
8:11 am
politics a little bit, and you've been renominated for a second term by president obama. >> guest: yes. >> host: haven't been confirmed yet by the senate. >> guest: this is true. >> host: if the president does win, there's been reports that chairman genachowski may leave and that you would be appointed acting chairman. >> guest: i haven't heard that. >> host: you haven't heard that? okay, you've heard it now. [laughter] >> guest: what i will say to you, peter, is i am so fortunate to serve. i came from south carolina, you know, 11 years on that commission bringing a state perspective to the commission. i will continue to do so if confirmed, and i will continue to serve in any way the president and the senate deem fit. >> host: well, if the senate does confirm you, what are some of the issues that you'd want to focus on in a second term at the fcc either in the majority or in the minority? >> guest: well, a lot of things, as you know, um, are in play right now. we're very busy in terms of incentive auctions, authority
8:12 am
that we were just granted in february. this is the first of its kind in the world in which we have an incredible opportunity to make more efficient both the broadcast pace and the mobile, cellular space. in terms of cbaa, in terms of insuring that those with disabilities are taking as much, have as much opportunities as they can in terms of the communication space by way of, you know, video, um, engagement and by way of, um, telephony engagement. so those are the two things that are front and center for me right now. of course, universal service reforms and what that means in terms of broadband adoption and deployment. those things are, as we laid out in the national broadband plan, are back in march of 2010. we laid forth how important it is to insure that our nation is connected.
8:13 am
we've got 19 million individuals in this nation who regardless of their means are not, don't have the infrastructure available literally in their backyards to be connected. that is very serious to me. that has implications by way of especially in rural america in terms of rural america being all that it can be, in terms of attracting industry and the like, in terms of educating its people, in terms of, you know, educating as well as providing robust, much-needed health care to some of these areas where they might not have specialized care. and so this is so important because to me broadband connectivity, um, is a panacea for so many deficiencies in which we have in this nation, so many opportunities in which we could take advantage of. so broadband, broadband, broadband. we cannot talk about it enough in terms of connectivity. >> you mentioned incentive
8:14 am
auctions. you recently gave a speech in which you, i believe, mentioned involuntary about 13 times. >> guest: yes. so you were counting apparently. [laughter] >> in exchange they'll get a share of auction revenues, and then that spectrum will go to wireless carriers. however, what happens -- do you have any concern that if enough broadcasters don't agree to give their spectrum up that there won't be enough spectrum and wireless carriers will go back to congress and say this should be mandatory, not voluntary? is there any concern that you have? >> guest: no, i do not. this is a process in terms of this particular incentive auction authority that we take seriously, that we have no plan b. there's a plan a. we're doing all that we can to make sure that the market, that the market synergies, market forces, that there are market opportunities that both the buyers and sellers, um, can take advantage of. this is an incredible, unique opportunity for both
8:15 am
broadcasters and those in the mobile industry that, um, i think increasingly -- um, and i can't say voluntary enough, is that 12? -- voluntary enough because it is a robust and engaged process that is potentially beneficial, um, for this nation. it has the opportunity to bring, um, more spectrum into play than we've seen in 25 years. so, um, i am not concerned. we are doing all that we can to make it all that it can be, and so, and i'm not going to be speculative as to how much it will bring to market, but it has the potential to really put us on a very firm pathway of meeting the needs of this nation by way of mobile engagement. >> but you did say there's been good interest at least from broadcasters so far in that speech. what are you basing that on? >> guest: i'm basing that on the engagement and the questions that are being asked. i'm basing that on the 20, um,
8:16 am
the 20 engagements that we've with had by way of web fares. you know -- webinars. there was engagement there, and when you hear concerns being voiced, change is very difficult. so when you hear concerns being voiced, that doesn't necessarily mean a totally negative engagement. that is a group of, you know, individuals, a group of business people who are concerned about the way things are progressing, and what we're doing at the fcc is having an open and transparent and a dynamic engagement to insure that all of the questions, as many questions as we can answer are being addressed in order for this to be a success. >> uh-huh. >> host: um, is the process moving quickly enough, in your view? >> guest: absolutely. remember february we were just granted authority in february, in april we laid out a framework as to who would be eligible. in september we just released a
8:17 am
notice of proposed rulemaking that will take up and consider all of the technical aspects because this is a really robust, um, highly-technical framework. we've hired outside experts, you know, to help us in this, again, first in the world type engagement. so it's going to be very dynamic as we lead up to 2014. but, um, i am confident that, um, we have the resources. i am confident, um, that the team, that internal team that we have is doing, that it can to insure that there is an open, robusten gaugement, that that is a successful engagement and that we will move more spectrum to market. >> host: when we've talked to some of your colleagues, robert mcdowell and ajit pai, they both mention that the government has a lot of the spectrum that is being unused and talked about more sharing.
8:18 am
>> guest: yes. >> host: could you address those issues as well? >> guest: well, one of the things that we say internally, and we say it jokingly, but we're very serious, they're serious about it. this is an all-of the above type strategy. meaning when we talk about incentive auctions that we're talking about, in terms of the engagement, i mentioned 2014 for a reason. it's going to take a while for us, um, to put all of the rules of the road together, to get that in gear for, um, for that engagement to take place. so in the meantime, what do we do to address some of the critical, um, needs that we have by way of in this instance what's driving here, and that's, you know, mobile engagement. um, every other person we know has a tablet. um, most people we know, you know, they have smartphones. that uses more energies, you know, in terms of more energy than our standard, you know, our legacy, um, our old way of communicating. i shouldn't say old, the legacy
8:19 am
way of communicating, because a lot of us still have land lines. um, and so in order to meet, you know, these needs, you know, we have to look at the best means and the best way and the timetables in terms of, you know, deployment or getting that spectrum to market. and so spectrum sharing, looking at, um, what the federal, what's in the, um, you know, federal coffers so to speak in terms of spectrum, i don't know, all of those -- you know, all of these things are in play, it's an all of the above approach in terms of how to get spectrum to market. and, of course, month to month you follow us, we do things in terms of spectral efficiencies, in terms of the dynamic spectral small sales, you hear a lot about that. all of these things are looking at how we can be more efficient and how we can get spectrum the market both short and long term. so -- >> the president's council of
8:20 am
advisers on science and technology, in the summer they had a report, and they said that sharing with the federal government agencies should be the norm, that the administration should put out an order ordering those agent is is to identify 3,000 megahertz of spectrums to share. wireless carriers and others say, hold it, the first default should be we assign spectrum for exclusive use, not sharing. what would you say to those folks? >> guest: i would say, again, that, um, everything needs to be on the table, and there doesn't need to be a rigid timetable, um, as it relates to, you know, whether or not this should go first, you know, this should be sharing first or there should be -- we, again, um, want to address the critical needs going forward, and so it's difficult to me. i don't want to go necessarily against any one party or another, but it's difficult for me, um, and i think it should be
8:21 am
difficult for others to be rigid in this process. we need to, again, look at all, um, avenues as it relates to getting that much-needed, much-demanded spectrum to market that includes sharing, that includes, you know, repurposing or real low -- reallocating, that includes all of it. so i'm not going to get into that debate, i'm just going to say we need to look at it all in order for us to have a steady stream, a steady pathway or a steady means to get spectrum to market. >> host: commissioner clyburn, recently you've been at some itu meetings. >> guest: i have. >> host: what have you learned, what do you take away from those? >> guest: that we have more in common than not, that no matter where you head to, no matter what commissioner you speak to around the world from the smallest of nations to the most developed and most robust nations, you have everybody saying the same things; that
8:22 am
they want affordable, ubiquitous broadband for their nation because they know what it means in terms of economic development, they know what it means in terms of, you know, the provisioning, you know, in terms of information exchange. they know what it means. so we have more in common than not. you have, of course, heard about some done flicks -- conflicts, especially as it relates ling up to what they call the itrs or looking at the rules or regulations as it relates to the international telecommunications union. there are always going to be, you know -- there are conflicts domestically, there are always going to be, you know, some enhanced, robust and sometimes tense conversations on an international level. but, again, if you speak to the majority of those 190-plus nations, they want their countries to be the best that they can be. they want their people to be the best that they can be. and they see, like we do, that
8:23 am
broadband-enabled infrastructure will leapfrog like cellular has many done in many developing nations, leapfrog them from where they are now to where they can be. and so, again, you hear more positive, um, there's a lot of sharing, sharing of good, best practices, sharing of good ideas, sharing of resources. so there's more going on by way of sharing in negotiations than sometimes the headlines reveal. and that's what i see, those commonalities outweigh some of those key but relatively few frictions, you know, that you might see or hear about. >> going back to the election, we talked about competition in the wireless market. a couple of the things that could potentially be in the balance regarding the election would be the special access rules which the fcc's trying to
8:24 am
change. those basically allow enterprise carriers and others, enterprises and others to get access to facilities. the other could be the fcc's open internet rules which are currently under challenge. regarding special access, if romney were to win, if a republican-led fcc were to not make changes in some of the special access rules that some of the smaller enterprises want, what would the impact be, do you think, on the market in. >> guest: i think sometimes we use these phrases that we take for granted everybody knows. when you talk about special access, what do we mean? we mean those dedicated circuits that many of us use each and every day that we take for granted. when you head to that atm, it doesn't take me long for that engagement, but when you head to the atm and take your time because you have more money, that exchange is using -- that's special access. and so when that, um, atm
8:25 am
basically communicates with your bank to see if you can withdraw, you know, what you want, you know, that circuitry is the exchange. that's special access. and so to me what you see in terms of that proceeding is you're seeing us looking at how competitive the market is. and to me, um, you know, what that means, um, and what that tells in terms of the future of that particular proceeding, um, is very telling. again, we're talking about some basic, essential services from your atm to, you know, using that card to go to the gas pump. and so how are the rates and conditions, um, you know, fair? um, those are the types of things, um, questions that i trust will be answered, um, you know, regardless of, you know, the political makeup, um, of the fcc. you've got to, um, i feel that, um, there's a need for more
8:26 am
data, and there's a need for more valuation as it relates to that because, again, in terms of special access there are some key essential services, um, that could potentially be impacted if all of those variables do not, um, are not considered for final decision. >> but might the conclusions be different if there are three republicans and two democrats? >> guest: i'm not going to today -- i can only put forth to you what this commissioner uses in terms of the inputs and variables that this commissioner will use to make her decision. >> host: and, paul kirby, time for one more question for now. >> okay. the open internet rules are up to challenge. those are thrown out by the court. what do you think happens? if they're upheld, do you think there'll be come complaints filed by folks, the open internet rules are being violated? >> guest: in terms of -- i remain very hopeful in terms of the courts' engagement as it relate toss this. we put forth six high-level
8:27 am
rules that fit on one sheet of paper that clearly defined for both user as well as the companies providing the service that these, this is a type of engagement that we should have for a robust, um, infrastructure, for a robust exchange, that there should be transparency, that you should know what you're getting by way of service, that if i have a device that i can use my own device if it's not harmful to the market. that if i am trying to access information, you know, that's legal -- again, legal framework -- that i can do that. that there's a nondiscriminatory, you know, pathway as it relates to this engagement, yes. there's, you know, reasonable in terms of, you know, reasonable network management principles, but that's transparent too. so what i think and what i know is we use these terms like open internet and network neutrality that sometimes get many people upset. well, what it is is clear rules
8:28 am
of the road that are put forth so there are very few questions about the engagement. i always say in terms of, um, when people ask there have been no official filings, i always affirm that this is not an inexpensive space to navigate in terms of officially filing something. that is an economic, um, it's an economic threshold that a lot of people do not have the time or the capacity or the economic means to meet. we do hear, i hear every day about challenges. but whether or not those individuals, you know, have the wherewithal, have the means to come and file a formal complaint, that's different. and so as a commissioner, as a regulator, as a public servant, it's up to me to take all of those things into consideration when i make policy. that is why that i'm embracing
8:29 am
whatever you want to call it. i used to call it n squared, you know, jokingly. but in terms about open internet engagement, that is why i have embraced it, that is why i affirm that in principle that it worked when it was a more inform framework, and it will continue to work under the current framework because clear rules of the road are open and are there for us to take advantage of. >> host: and finally, commissioner clyburn, there's an election coming up. the holidays are coming up. lame duck congress is coming up. what's the fcc's agenda for the next -- for november and december, or will we have to wait for the new year? >> guest: we continue to work. we've got certain deadlines as it relates to cbaa, in terms of, you know, the acts. we've got certain deadlines that are independent of what you put forth that might cause

The Communicators
CSPAN November 5, 2012 8:00am-8:30am EST

News/Business. People who shape the digital future.

TOPIC FREQUENCY Us 10, Clyburn 7, Fcc 5, Genachowski 2, Sandy 2, Fema 2, Cbaa 2, Peter 2, Paul Kirby 2, New York 2, America 2, Webinars 1, System Called P.l.a.n. 1, Looking 1, Robert Mcdowell 1, South Carolina 1, Robusten Gaugement 1, Romney 1, Ajit Pai 1, Katrina 1
Network CSPAN
Duration 00:30:00
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel 91 (627 MHz)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 704
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color

disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only
Uploaded by
TV Archive
on 11/5/2012